Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The New Sleeping Beauty?

Five recent Urban Fantasies I've read have a heroine either coming into or receiving her powers following a brutal attack.

Greywalker - beating/attempted murder
Wraith - rape/attempted murder
Scent of Shadows - rape/attempted murder
The Turning - murder
The Becoming - sexual assault/attempted murder

It's like Sleeping Beauty syndrome only instead of a kiss on the lips, she gets a punch in the face. I know this is just coincidence that these are the books I've picked out of my TBR pile. And I don't necessarily think it's a worrying trend - as long as it's not gratuitous and is relevant to the plot. It immediately illustrates how dangerous the UF world is to anyone brave/stupid enough to be drawn into it. It also gives the heroine a reason to stay in this frightening world as she seeks either answers or revenge.

I guess there are only a limited number of ways you can gain supernatural powers. Hmmm...let's think:-

Gain them at birth - probably one of the most common.

Inherit them - kind of like an ugly vase that you never wanted but have to accept. Example the Slayer inherits her power (or did).

Steal them (magical objects) - Djinn in Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series.

Sell your soul for them (Faustian pact) - Faust, Georgina Kincaid from Succubus Blues.

Gain them accidentally

Being tricked into getting them - LOL I do have an example for this but it's a spoiler for the book concerned.

Be infected by them - kind of like a sexual disease that you never wanted but have to accept.

I'm not complaining just commenting. I'm also trying to think of a male UF protagonist who gained his powers after being raped and left for dead, I'm sure there must be one, but I'm coming up blank.

25th September 2008

I'm revisiting this post following KMont's (Lurv a la Mode) review of Faefever.

It's been over a year since I posted and I think following the number of UF books I've read in the past year I can reasonably conclude that it was probably less of a coincidence and more of an almost established part of UF.

Nothing against these books, as long as it's organic to the plot, relevant to the situation and not gratuitous I don't have a problem with it. These are heroines who are living in dangerous times. But in case anyone didn't get the sarcasm mode above, there are more ways for a female heroine to become empowered than just the idea that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.


jepad said...

LOL...I like the analogy to Sleeping Beauty, only with a punch instead of a kiss. It is interesting that a whole bunch of books with that theme appeared in such a short time.

Sucks to be a heroine in an UF novel. That's for sure.

It as an interesting way to develop the abilities, though. Don't people who have had near-death experiences claim they developed unusual psychic abilities afterward? I suppose one could argue that the trauma of the event, the dissociation of the spirit and body causes one to become more 'open' to inherent abilities.

Althogh in Scent of Shadows, didn't she possess the ability already? It was just latent until her 25th birthday? Granted there was an attack, but I didn't think it 'caused' her to come into her powers

In Wraith, it was clear that she had some unusual abilities from her mother (and I'm guessing also her dad) that the attack allowed her to tap into. Here is was more a catalyst, IMO, than in Scent of Shadows.

LesleyW said...

In Scent of Shadows I think in a way there's two attacks. Whoops - spoilers for SoS follow. There was the first attack when she entered her second life, then the second just before she entered her third life. Thinking about what happened to Stryker later on it's almost like surviving an attack was a rites of passage. For SoS it's more a 'coming into' her powers rather than gaining them.

Naomi said...

This is a trend throughout comic books as well. Or at least, the trend of having female characters brutally raped and/or attacked. I've blogged about it somewhere...


You might also want to look at http://www.unheardtaunts.com/wir/women.html

LesleyW said...

Thanks for posting the links Naomi - makes for interesting reading. I do like the entry for Rogue - "...just plain messed up".

It makes me want to write a story with a female protagonist where she doesn't have to suffer some kind of brutal attack to attain her powers.

In some cases it brings to mind Sidney's comment in Scream about how the girl is always 'running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door'.

Nicole said...

'I'm also trying to think of a male UF protagonist who gained his powers after being raped and left for dead, I'm sure there must be one, but I'm coming up blank.'

I'm coming up blank trying to think of a make UF protag who was raped, much less the rest of it. (Not a minor or supporting character... a protagonist.)

LesleyW said...

I think I'm gonna do a follow up post on this.